MET POLICE   Friday 26th April 2013   NORTHWOOD FC

Isthmian Veterans' Cup final

  Met. Police 1  Northwood 2 (a.e.t)  

Cooper 82

McDonagh 11, M Burgess 104

Team line-up  

  Team line-up
1 Alan Moore     1 Darren Bonfield
2 Carl Naylor     2 Dave Nolan
3 Graham Taylor     3 Gavin Hart
4 Paul Barrowcliff     4 Mark Burgess
5 Orlando Jeffrey     5 Gary Williams
6 Ross Biscoe     6 Danny Butler
7 Steve Bogidi     7 Christian Metcalfe
8 Ian Batten     8 Richard McDonagh
9 Kevin Cooper     9 Martin Randall
10 Rob Haworth     10 Lawrence Yaku
11 Mark Scott     11 James Burgess
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Andy Whyte     12 Steve Hale
14 Steve Potterill     14 Andy Cook
15 Ian Davis     15 Danny Yeoman
16 Ian Griffith     16 -
17 Jamie Darby     17 -
  REPORT and PHOTOS by Alan Evans  


First-team manager Mark Burgess curled home an extra-time winner as the Woods captured the Isthmian Veterans Cup for the first time with a classy performance. It was Northwood’s second attempt to win a final in the competition, having lost 2-0 to Bromley four years earlier while it was the fourth time that these two rivals had met in the competition with the Woods having lost out to the Mets in the two previous games at Imber Court.

Northwood’s squad was pretty much unchanged from the one that had reached the final with a 4-0 success at Walton Casuals, though Martin Randall had recovered from recent injury problems to start the match in place of Dave Richards who was unavailable. Players to watch in the Police side included former Brentford midfielder Paul Barrowcliff, experienced non-League striker Rob Haworth, alongside one-time Northwood forward Kevin Cooper, and in defence they paraded the imposing Orlando Jeffrey who had played in the same Hampton side as Lawrence Yaku a couple of years ago.

There was an early chance for the Mets when Gary Williams slipped and allowed Haworth to bear down on goal, he exchanged passes with Cooper and was about to pull the trigger when Williams recovered to get in an excellent block tackle.  At the other end, the Woods had settled well with Christian Metcalfe showing neat touches in midfield and won a free-kick just outside the box for the first of many vigorously clumsy tackles on Yaku. Richard McDonagh stepped up to the plate and curled a well-flighted strike over the wall and into the top corner to give Northwood an eleventh minute lead.

The Police side tried to hit back quickly but Darren Bonfield made the first of several good stops to deny Haworth’s chipped effort and then the Woods started to dominate.  Dave Nolan’s dangerous cross was well cut out by goalkeeper Alan Moore and then an excellent move started when Gavin Hart won a tackle out wide saw Randall and Yaku combine to set up James Burgess for a low shot which flashed just wide of the post.

Hart, who had run the London Marathon the previous Sunday, was showing no signs of fatigue and got forward well to knock in another good cross. Jeffrey headed the ball clear but only to the edge of the box and James Burgess passed to Randall who swept a shot only inches over the crossbar.  Next it was Nolan’s turn to roll back the years as he drove forward down the right and found Yaku. The Woods’ record goalscorer cut in and fired a shot to the near post which Moore did well to keep out.

Another Hart through-ball released Yaku who go past Jeffrey to bear down on goal but a good late challenge from Ross Briscoe did just enough to deny him as his shot went straight at the oncoming ‘keeper who held on well.  The Mets looked for a way back into the game with Cooper hitting a low free-kick through the defensive wall but without the power to beat Bonfield and then a Haworth header across goal and into the danger-area cried out for a finish but the ball was scrambled away.

Danny Yeoman became the Woods first roll-on substitute when he replaced Randall on 36 minutes and the Woods again strode forward with Mark Burgess chipping a neat ball into the box and brother James Burgess steering his free header wide of the post. Mark Burgess went for goal himself a few minutes later with a well-hit low shot that tested Moore but the ‘keeper held on again to keep his under-pressure side in the game up to the halfway point.

It was still all to play for as the second half kicked off and on 51 minutes and Yaku latched onto a Burgess header to beat Jeffrey but his cross was cut out and the Police countered quickly. Haworth carried the ball before finding Mark Scott with an accurate pass but the Mets skipper then saw his cross cut out by Bonfield. It was around this time that the final started to get a little feisty with Scott the first of many to see a yellow card as tackles from the home side began to get a little over-zealous.

After 54 minutes James Burgess got his head to a Yeoman cross and beat Moore but his effort was ruled out for a tight but correct offside flag. Two minutes later, a defensive slip allowed Haworth a sight of goal but he fired across the face of goal and wide of the far post.  Another good ball on from Yeoman, this time from a free-kick, saw the ball punched out by Moore but only as far as McDonagh who deftly chipped the ball back but it dropped just over the crossbar on this occasion.

The Woods picked up a series of free-kicks for the many fouls, mainly on Yaku, and McDonagh curled another one from distance that wouldn’t quite come down and flashed just over the top. With only twenty minutes to go, Northwood hadn’t managed to kill off the game and when Moore saved well after Yaku had steered a Yeoman cross goalwards, the Mets made a double-substitution to try to introduce fresh legs.  A quick break saw Haworth again look the man most likely to cause a problem to the solid Northwood defence but his cross whistled across the face of goal and despite Jeffrey diving in at the far post, he wasn’t able to connect.

Andy Cook was introduced for the hard-working McDonagh on 79 minutes but within three minutes the Mets had levelled the scores. A disputed handball decision led to the home side being awarded a free-kick just outside the area and Cooper hit a clever low shot into an unprotected area of the goal to make it 1-1. It was the first goal that the Woods had conceded in the competition, but it lifted the Mets and they pushed forward looking for a winner. Firstly Briscoe got forward and hit a good shot that Bonfield kept out at his near post and then in the final minute of normal time Barrowcliff found space to hit a sweet strike that looked like creeping inside the post before Bonfield got down to push the ball round the post.
Back came Northwood in stoppage-time which Cook flicking a header wide from a Yeoman free-kick and then Nolan hitting a excellent free-kick goalwards but Moore was able to tip the ball over the bar. At the end of normal time, discussions took place as to whether the two sides wished to go straight to penalties rather than the stipulated extra-time but the Woods were keen to carry on and that looked the right decision as they dominated the first period.

Metcalfe was continuing to pull the strings in midfield, releasing the Burgess twins to get forward but it was a cross from the big man Cook that saw a defensive header that dropped to James Burgess but he hit his shot wide. The vital second goal for the Woods came after 104 minutes with Hart getting forward to feed Mark Burgess who beat his man before seeing a shot blocked but he was quickest to the loose ball and this time a curling effort across goal crept inside the far post to give Northwood the advantage once again.

It deflated the home side. Hart enjoyed a run and shot that flashed wide before the break and then Yaku was onto a Hart ball quickly just after before firing a shot which was even closer. The Woods were closing the game out and frustrating the boys in blue and they should have made it game over in the final minute when another excellent ball from Yeoman picked out substitute Steve Hale but he failed to hit the target with a free header, perhaps distracted by the presence of Cook coming in on it too.

It meant that, three minutes later, when Nolan brought a dangerous Mets attack to an end with a cynical foul, it gave the Police one last chance to level things up. The free-kick was about twenty-five yards out and Cooper took charge again as he looked for his second goal. He took a long run-up and fired for goal but the ball took a deflection and went wide for a corner. That was dealt with comfortably and the final whistle followed to give the Woods a well-earned victory.

Everyone played their part in an excellent team performance but Metcalfe probably shaded man-of-the match in midfield, just ahead of Butler in defence and McDonagh with his ability to keep possession together with his precision dead-ball kicks. But Bonfield made a couple of vital stops, the Burgess twins worked tirelessly and Yeoman also impressed. Nolan, Hart and Yaku did everything asked of them while Williams made some timely tackles and the other subs, Cook and Hale also played their part.

Manager Paul Watkins and his assistant Craig McIntosh should be congratulated in getting the squad together for the three games and reliving the good old days.